Mental Health: Why it Cannot Be Overlooked

Mental health. Let’s all take a minute to think about what that means to us and how that affects us on a daily basis. When you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “This is going to be a shitty day.” Most likely you are going to have a shitty day because you have already programmed your mind to see it as such. Now for those of us that are more conscious of our thoughts and attempt to shape our day based on positive ideals we do in fact have a good day.

With that thought in mind take into account the thousands and thousands of people that suffer daily with mental health issues and cannot bring their minds to a positive existence. Not because they don’t want to, but they cannot. Even in this moment we can probably think of someone we know who at some time or another we have thought, “They need help”, “They’re losing it!” Of course though you said nothing because that would be rude. Just yesterday though you probably told your friend their outfit was horrendous. Why is this so much easier to say? Mental Health America (2018) states that 1 in 5 adults suffers from a mental health condition. That’s roughly more than 40 million people and 9.6 million of which have had thoughts of suicide. So why is it that we never notice a person needs help until after they shoot kids at their school, they open fire at a church or walk into a movie theater and kills innocent people? After almost all of the mass shootings in the United States we watched clips of friends, neighbors, parents and others say, “I knew something was wrong.” SPEAK UP. It’s obvious that men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds suffer from mental illness. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We have seen in the media the couple of weeks two very iconic people in American take their own life unexpectedly. Let me preface this next paragraph with this statement: mental health illness know’s no color.

National Alliance on Mental Health states that African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. This includes depression, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide. Young, black men. Let me say this to you. Culturally you have been raised to believe that men do not cry, emotions are a sign of weakness and speaking about your feelings makes you a “punk”. There is nothing further from the truth.  There are many reasons that we do not look to receive help for mental illness. In the communities we often live in there is limited access to mental health services and a negative connotation to receiving help. In order to build strong families and break stereotypical barriers of what it is to be a black man in America it is vital to recognize the importance of preserving your mental health. Building a strong family is hard to do on an unstable foundation.

Today in the town I live in a young man shot a police officer that was attempting to serve a warrant. Several people posted their opinions on the subject some ignorant of course as with anything highly controversial. One comment that hit me in the chest was from a neighbor that stated the young man needed help and that several other people knew he needed help. As a society we have to stop waiting until it’s too late to offer help. Prevention is key. Parents be proactive in your children’s lives. Ask them questions and pry. When I was younger there was no such thing as not talking to my mom. I couldn’t hide anything from that woman. Make it a practice to speak about mental health, feelings, people around them. Teach your children to be vocal about what concerns them. Silence is killing us.

-Millie

references used:

Mental Health America. (2018). The state of mental health in america. retrieved      from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2018). African american mental health. retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-American-Mental-Health

 

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